American Troubles

FILE — In this April 19, 1995, aerial file photo, the north side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City is pictured after an explosion that killed 168. (AP Photo/File)(AP)

The United States of America has long been a beacon for many people around the globe. A place for opportunity, freedom or wealth. While that may have been true at certain points and still may be true for certain demographics the luster has begun to fade. Now many might start our troubles in 2016 with the election of Donald Trump, but that’s only part of the story. It would be a convenient relief to blame all of our problems on a certain president, but our problems are systemic and have been ongoing for decades. A real starting point would be our foundation. A foundation of exclusion of various populations, most notably Black Americans. Even today real inclusion is only marginal when it comes to power and enfranchisement. If we were to point fingers in a single direction to lay blame for our current crisis it would be the Reagan administration. It took any previous gains for a more prosperous equitable union and threw us head first into neoliberal laissez-faire capitalism for the next three decades. Only now are some of us beginning to come to terms with how wrong this direction was, but it may be too late to avoid serious catastrophe.

You see since 2016 and especially since the start of the pandemic in 2020 many people have been saying that the United States is in it’s dark night, but surely there must be a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m not so sure there is at least not for a long while yet. The next five to ten years, maybe even longer may be the most dangerous that the union has been through since the Civil War. There’s many reasons for this, but a major one is neglect. The expansion of capital has been the primary concern among the ruling elite for too long and it’s still ongoing. President Biden for instance recently touted how the U.S. was the only major economy to grow in 2021, albeit with no mention of the mass death event happening to the people with COVID. As I’m writing this deaths per day have been higher than any other time during the pandemic and it’s complete radio silence. The death toll is quickly skyrocketing towards a million (not to mention millions of newly disabled) and our leaders want us to pretend the pandemic is over. For the economy.

Now the botched pandemic response itself is bad…really bad. With our healthcare workforce being burnt out and the serious threat of our healthcare system collapsing it would be a crisis all on its own. However, there is more happening. Compounding crises are seriously jeopardizing the stability of the U.S. itself. Inequality has been left to soar out of control as the trickle down part of neoliberal capitalism never happened. The rich have no interest in helping the masses, just as the government has been more concerned with profit and maintaining its overseas empire than fixing any infrastructure or social problems here at home. Climate change is another factor that has the potential to cause serious disruption and death. Not only in the never ending wildfire season in the west, but increased hurricanes, floods, and a likely water crisis in the southwest.

It doesn’t seem like there is any coordinated serious approach to that issue either. With how the pandemic has been handled it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect leadership to allow mass death from climate chaos too. The hands off approach to literally every issue has meant decreased trust in the government on all sides of the political spectrum. This in combination with tech companies allowed free reign has seen the rampant spread of disinformation. We saw this with Trumps campaign, Qanon, Plandemic, culminating in the January 6th storming of the capitol. Even more worrying is that the Republican Party has obviously given up on democracy and instead wants to embrace a more autocratic vision of the U.S. designed in their image. At the same time the Democratic Party is more concerned with profit and keeping its corporate donors happy than addressing any social issues. They most certainly won’t be helpful in combatting any serious attempt at the overthrow of American democracy. All of these issues have been festering and it would take extreme measures to reverse the course we’re on now.

Now this is just speculation on my part, but seeing what I’ve seen I’ve come to the conclusion that as early as 2024 the U.S. could find it’s democracy collapsing into a dictatorship, outright civil war, or some combination of the two. Now I don’t think the union will split into factions like the previous civil war with northern armies fighting southern armies or one region going toe to toe with another. I do think that we may see guerrilla warfare, sporadic fighting and bombings such as the Irish Troubles as different groups take up arms against each other and the state they rightly believe has abandoned them.

Being the U.S. with all of our guns and everyday violence already a commonality would surely mean any civil unrest here would be extraordinarily violent. The conditions are ripe for violence, they have been for awhile, but too many people have been afraid to say it. I’m not the only one who has been saying America is ripe for some sort of collapse, renowned sociologist Johan Galtung predicted the U.S. would collapse by 2025. He later revised that to 2020 after the election of George W. Bush. In some ways 2020 was a sort of social collapse, while the government has officially kept power they haven’t been able to control the pandemic in any meaningful way and they’ve lost trust with wide swaths of the population. Because of COVID deaths, drug overdoses and suicides the life expectancy of Americans has also declined by 2 years or so. The life expectancy decline was happening before the pandemic, but was sped up by the event. The last time a developed country saw decreasing life expectancy was when the Soviet Union collapsed, which doesn’t bode well at all.

Now back to speculation. Let’s say Donald Trump or Trump adjacent is elected president again in 2024 and with the help of his friends decides to dismantle American democracy officially. We would very likely see a backlash from leftist forces who would most likely declare war on what they would deem an illegitimate fascist state. I’ve personally seen videos from leftist creators on different platforms with tens of thousands of likes already saying that Vietcong style guerrilla warfare tactics would be effective against the U.S. military. Which the U.S. military could theoretically be used against insurgents here at home, but they wouldn’t necessarily need to be. There are plenty of right wing militias armed to the teeth that would be happy to take up arms against their fellow citizens. The new “president” may have to do as little as tell them to defend the nation against the insurgents and they might do it for them avoiding the complications of direct US military involvement at home. At least at first anyways…

On the flip side if democracy continues on (if only barely) and especially if a democrat comes into power in 2024 those same right wing militias may take up arms against the state. Anyone who tries to seriously reform the U.S. is going to be labeled a socialist or communist dictator by the right. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to picture these groups engaging in violence. Many of the worst acts of violence here at home have been carried out by right wing groups or believers in their ideology. Examples range from the recent plot to kidnap governor Gretchen Whitmer, to the Oklahoma City bombing. These are just two examples but there are many other events motivated by right wing or white supremacist ideology. Many of these ideologies have sadly taken root in a large portion of the U.S. population with sitting Congress men and women a little too comfortable with them.

In conclusion I fear that the U.S. is going to have a very rough decade(s) as it tries to figure out what it’s identity is and how to move forward with all the issues it’s facing. Violence is almost surely assured. We’ve passed a threshold and our leaders are doing too little too late to solve the myriad of problems we’re facing. I sincerely hope I’m wrong and we’re able to pull through, but I fear we may be heading into our own troubles as Americans increasingly view each other with disdain and disgust. With one party more than happy to encourage minority rule and another unwilling or unable to do anything about it.



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Queer navigating now through poetry and essays. Writing focuses include mental health, society, China, and my own struggles